Thursday, April 21, 2011

200+ messages and only 4 are kept?

Just turned my phone on and Traveler downloaded over 200 emails to it.
This is what I get for 2 days of not turning it on due to the Passover holiday  that started Monday night.

But really, only 4 were kept? I think my friend Luis Suarez is on the right track, email is really not helpful anymore.

Granted some I replied to or added to a calendar and some are just backup notifications and other similar admin items. Still, that is a lot of wasted time for emails.

My personal account only had 40 emails, kept 3 of them. I have been much better at cleaning my personal email out of unnecessary messages. Killing all the sales/coupons and "advanced sales" helps immensely.

But I really want to setup a mail rule to kill all these webinar invitations, yet keep the IBM ones. I don't mind getting invites from companies/people I know and have a relationship with already. The rest of you out there should start bribing people better if you think your webinar is really that great that we should drop everything else to waste 30-60 minutes or more on you.

To help you, here are the requests my wife prefers an iPad and my kids prefer iTouchs or iPods. I only accept Pinball machines as bribes or the NFL Blitz Arcade game 99-2002 versions.

Friday, April 15, 2011

You Admins Reading This Post, Do This

IBM has a program which is aimed to help you, yes you, be a Champion of your world. Yes IBM wants to recognize the IBM and Lotus Champions of the world. Not just some of us crazy blogger people or even some of the Business Partners, but you in the trenches.

You love it, you support it, let IBM give you some love back as well.

I take no credit for the idea although I admit to giving feedback about it at Lotusphere 2011 as did many others.

So if you want to go get fixed up with whatever IBM wishes to bestow on the Champions, here are the links.

Oh yeah, you can nominate yourself so don't worry that no one outside your company knows you, but if you think that is the case please follow and meet some of the 315+ Lotus/IBM/Collaboration/Social bloggers.

IBM Champion program page:

Have an excellent Weekend and big thanks Joyce Davis and everyone on her team at Developerworks for her pushing this to get done.

What if Your Presentation Sucks

"That was all they let me do", "they edited out all the good parts", "hard to make developing code fun", "It's 25 steps and we need to get through it all". So what? Don't you still have your brain and mouth? Slides are just for archival material.

A Twitter conversation and a blog post later and see what happens?

Luis Suarez of IBM, the master of living without email, posted this yesterday. Titled, Improving Your Presentation Skills – Part Deux.

Luis points out some excellent ideas and references for speakers and presenters. Go read and listen/watch it all RIGHT NOW, I will wait patiently.

Welcome back!

So now you have some excellent ideas for presentations....except many of us are not freewheeling presentations on discussion topics. Many times we are performing instructional or deep technical sessions.

Yes, humor helps as does crazy animation of your body and gesticulating like crazy, but really you need more than this to truly have an enjoyable experience at a learning session.

Years ago when I was inside IBM we built demonstrations around a pub, bar or restaurant because it was a universal concept. Did not need to worry about generational issues, politics, translations, it just worked. Need a workflow to order more alcohol, track the number of cups used, validate the login at the cash register and you get the idea.

People do enjoy the story and the journey is what they will remember about your session, so much more than a piece of technical wizardry or wonder you showed them. Well maybe just me, my memory is horrible, else I'd be a developer by now.

So for my sessions at The View I have planned 2 out of the 3 sessions "themes" that should help keep a story line together. That and my editors, thanks Celia! I need to conjure up a 3rd but haven't finished it yet so the jury is still out on the best way to do it.

As an example, because someone will naturally ask, one of my sessions is about DDM and monitoring your environment. Take a car and all it's warning lights, aimed at preventative maintenance, now to think about which car to use. I can't adjust the whole look and feel of the slides, they frown on that, but the overall discussion and graphics will be tweaked to feel that way. Plus what I show on stage is not what gets distributed.

Usually I try to rig my demo server with some fun names and options inside it about the city we are in. Kind of like going to a concert and the singer says "Good Evening Miami or in this case Las Vegas".

Have fun and tell a story, even in the not so exciting "how to" sessions.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

One Cloud to Rule them All

One Cloud to rule them all, One Cloud to find them, One Cloud to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. - Apologies to J.R.R. Tolkien

It is amusing to me that IBM was in the Cloud business so long ago, they had no idea that is what they were doing. The poor old, left for dead mainframe that never quite got extinct is still plugging away with so many VMs on it it you could probably replace an entire data center with one. Well one HUGE one.

It is commodity time again. I got, you got, he got a Cloud. Big deal.

What's in your Cloud is the big deal. No matter your business, if you looked outside your office to the Internet and saw tools you could use, why not just use them? I guarantee yoru employees are, and within your network and you may not even know about it...or care.

You want simpler, easier collaboration tools. Faster networks, more options, better personalization choices and customization flexibility. You also want it for free. As the old saying goes, pick 2 out of 3.

If Internet access was truly ubiquitous and nominal fee based, like your water bill, that would change everything. Google and Apple among others see this as a forthcoming future and are ahead of the game.

Where are you? Where is your IT? How will you stay modern when your old systems are legacy after a few months or in modern parlance, last rev.

One Cloud to rule them all? You bet and it may be coming sooner than anyone thinks.

SnTT - Mixed Email Server Environments Monitoring

If you are an IBM Collaboration Software Lotus Domino Administrator and you have a mixed messaging environment that involves gateways, relays or any other type of forwarding, you really should be using DDM (Domino Domain Monitoring) and the Events4.nsf database.

Last year at MWLUG I gave a session to a packed room on the basics of DDM, can grab it here.

This year I am speaking at The View's Admin Conference in Las Vegas June 22-24 for the 2nd year in a row and one of my 3 sessions is about DDM for the uninitiated.

So what is so special about this for DDM that you should use it for mixed environments? Ever have mail stop flowing to one of them(Exchange Connector), long time no messages from it? How would you know unless the executives or help desk told you? Hopefully few of you reading this find out this way.

The smarter way is of course to use either built-in and FREE tools or a 3rd party tool like RPR Wyatt's Vital Signs or GSX's Monitor. Note: We have a relationship with both of these great products.

But FREE is for me..and you.

DDM actually is a nice GUI that wraps around the events4.nsf but I use DDM as the terminology to represent stats and alarms. If it wasn't for the probes I set up I would be constantly putting out fires and taking phone calls never ending at a time when I need to be focused on the clients problems.

How do you enable DDM probes? Here are the steps:

  1. Open the events4.nsf
  2. Click on DDM probes from the list in the Left column
  3. Select By Type
  4. Click on "New DDM Probe" from the sub menu
  5. Select Messaging from the drop down list
  6. A new window will open with details to be filled in.
  7. Probe Subtype, look at the list
  8. Select Mail Flow Statistic Check or whatever else your heart desires
  9. Enter a description if you want, like "This will let us know when Exchange crashes"
  10. Select which servers it should run on. Hint your mail server or gateways
  11. Select a destination or leave it as all
  12. Select Services
  13. Finally on thispage select the limits you can accept. keep in mind if you set it to 1 email you will get MANY notifications. I like to set it to a retry of 3-5 and a message count exceeds 30 for Fatal but it is up to you.
  14. Click Save and Close
  15. Done
And now you have a probe to check for problems. You can then go to your DDM and look at the nice GUI Dashboard and see when you have issues. Keep this running on the giant 42" LCD monitor 24x7.

Or you could have run the Setup Wizards from the left column. But where would your education be if everything was simple? How would you ever troubleshoot a problem again? Yes I am talking to the Exchange admins.

But if you read my blog regularly, you know I am a lazy admin. I prefer to be proactive not reactive, so I spend my time upfront configuring events to notify me when something is wrong. Looking at DDM would take me away from my other work.

How to notify yourself or other admins about the probes:
  1. On the Left column click on event Handlers
  2. Select By Action
  3. Click on New Event Handler
  4. Select which server to notify about
  5. Leave the Trigger as default
  6. Click on the Event tab
  7. LEave events can be any type
  8. For the second option, I select events must be one of these severities and pick Fatal, Failure, Warning High it is up to you but at least pick what you selected up above for your mail routing probes.
  9. Then select events can have any message, hey you might get lucky and see other built in probes. Neat huh?
  10. Select Action tab
  11. Method you should select Twitter Mail
  12. Enter names or servers or mail-in db for the notices
  13. Select when to enable it.
  14. Save and Close

And you are done! Cool huh? and none of that wizard stuff. Real admin coolness in under 5 minutes.
Any questions? Speak now so my attendees in Vegas get your knowledge as well as mine.

PS here is what your notification will look like in your email:

Originating Server: Presto/RUSH
Event Severity: Fatal
Event Type: Server
Event Time: 04/13/2011 03:09:13 PM

Lotus Entries
  Probable Cause:
     1. The number of attempts to deliver messages to this destination is
     2. The named server may be down.
     3. There may be problems with network connection.
     4. The details tab lists any errors encountered when attempting to
access the destination.
  Possible Solution:
     1. Configure a mail routing probe to quickly detect a nonresponding
     2. Verify that the other server is running.
     3. Check connection documents for the correct information.
     4. Verify that the number of messages required before routing occurs
is less than the configured probe limit.
  Corrective Action:
     1. Create a mail routing probe.
     2. Inspect or modify a Connection document on server 'Presto/RUSH'.

To see additional information about this error message, click here -->
(Document link: Error Message Document)

To see the document that triggered this notification, click here -->
(Document link: Event Notification Document)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Paid or Free, Support by Vendors is lacking lately

No idea why but lately support services at 2 major vendors are really slow to respond.

In one case Symantec has been working on a backup issue, we can't get BackupExec to "see" the Domino directories to select them for backup on a primary mail server at a client. This has been dragging on for weeks. Along the way we resolved some other minor issues with other servers, but this is a main mail server. The files are of course replicated elsewhere, but still, weeks? I go days without hearing from them, then I get like 2 days of emails and calls and more log files FTP'd.

Because of this we are looking at some other vendors, Appassure looks promising, but they have no idea how Domino will work with them, I am a first client. Will get to them May 1 or so.

Another case involves a vendor which promises support for their Cloud offerings. They do and replied quickly, but have yet to reply to my replies asking for an email or account to share the file in question. Hard to discuss an issue if support can not look at the files. I emailed it to them finally in frustration only to get some email about my using FF4 and Windows7, or the 2 together was not approved. Well, sorry but I am testing for a client and that is what they use. Also was told the file should not have advanced formulas in it.

Please define advanced formulas? Is HTML advanced? Colors? Math calculations? This one left me scratching my head a bit.

So the Cloud is getting people to use it, but if it is less useful than an iPad or laptop or even my phone, what is the point? Doesn't everyone have file servers and shared location sites for files? Maybe Google Apps really is that good? Client wants to look at everyone's Cloud offerings now, MS, IBM, Google, you name it I guess stay away from local Cloud vendors?

All in all not a productive use of my time but since these are deep issues for clients I deal with them because my creative mind and troubleshooting may fix it when or if I get a support person to talk to me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The fun of Developing in Xpages

Time once again for one of my, what was he thinking..he doesn't code! posts.

Well it is that time of year again where the LCTY, er I mean Social Roadshow comes to town that we sponsor, yes it is at the Golf course again, and I dutifully update the server pages and forms in as minimal way as possible.

Somehow it is never quite so simple or minimal.

As you may have seen on Twitter I had posted a few issues.

First, I was unable to copy pieces of code/pages from one nsf to another.
Turns out my PC just needs more RAM or to shut down the multiple feeds running on it. What I saw was if I waited about 10 seconds the cursor would change and then come back, then I could go to the new db and paste it. Of course there was also the link to a piece of code that I hadn't moved yet

Second, My agent would not email the person who registered. Again, my fault. Syntax was incorrect, someone I know mistyped the correct field instead of using the drop down. Have I mentioned why I dropped programming back in 1992?

Third, after testing it all and verifying the URL is correct, I receive 2 of each email from my agent notifier. The email to the individual registering was sent once. Luckily this is where friends come in and after reviewing my settings decided that maybe I should not have the agent run on save or edit. Instead let it run every 15 minutes and give the server time to catch up to itself. This of course also means that 386 that runs the website may have to get upgraded. You may experience a resending of all the emails, just warning you.

So what did I learn this time about XPages?

1) That flying blind works, if you can troubleshoot your way to success.
2) The Designer client provides not just error messages and notifications but takes you to the point of failure. Which you then need to understand what you are looking at to fix it. When in doubt, ask!
3) There is probably a help file, but I still have not used it. I know RTFM, but if I knew how to explain what I was doing I would. I speak admin, not developer. I also have the Mastering XPages tome on my desk.
4) When you get it to work, it is a thing of beauty.
5) The Agent form where I put my Simple Action to email people brings up a text window to enter text, one problem is every time I pressed Enter to get a new line, it saved it and reverted back to the Designer agent list. To get around this I figured out pressing CTRL-Enter would get me a new line. Sometimes it does help to think out of the box.

As always, don't code like I do, unless you are an admin then in that case I feel for you and hope your development skills are more inline with modern times.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Novell's Vibe collaborates differently for the better

I have been spending some time lately playing with Novell's Vibe which is in beta, you can sign up at the link.

It is far from polished or ready for prime time, but some interesting findings which I want to share with you.

Privacy is a luxury. One of things I always found odd about Groupwise was the way they enabled anyone to read and send email as though it was the originator. Nothing new, we have this in Notes too, but Novell took the view that it's not a security issue or a privacy one, if you know someone is doing this. Thus their view of collaboration is also not weighted down by security or privacy, compared to Lotus ones.

Novell is working to bring the Google Wave idea to some usage, but to me at least, it is still as confounding as Google's product. Maybe I am too linear and old school but the almost random items that fly past you in the stream/river(they call it the Biglist) troubles me. I was told there is an icon to let me know what is a private message but at the time everything appeared open.

Novell wants people to share information truly collaboratively. And I applaud that effort and look to Project Vulcan to bring some of this as well. But my original posting, or message is editable by anyone right now. That is just mind blowing to me. Scarily so. From the threads it looks like that will not be the case at Live date but needless to say that raises questionable ideas. I'd like to see my posts ask me if they can be edited or not. And I'd like to see items not be allowed to be copied, printed or forwarded or "bring in" someone else to read it. Funny thing was the developer I was talking with said they did not have these limitations/security in Groupwise.

Before you think I am killing on Vibe, I am not. It's beta, it needs feedback. It is rather fun to be playing with code that the developers are using and logged in to as well so they can listen and chat to me while I am experiencing the quirkiness of a new product. I can't remember the last time we had this in Lotus.

Also, in the grand scheme of consumer vs. corporate philosophy I think Novell has a perspective that IBM should think about. Are you writing a product that will foster or hinder collaboration? Is too much security and lock downs bad in this day and age? As an admin and speaker at conferences I know the pros and cons of this question well. I also see companies not truly recognizing the path they are on may lead to a down side where employees may not choose to work there.

While certainly there should be some security, the premise of true collaboration is everything should be open all the time to everyone. Not a place that has a public and a private side and then squirreled away secret rooms inside those. Thinking like a customer I would like to see better security on offer, even if clients do not use it all, than see less security available.

What will be of interest to me is how Novell deals with this product from a mobile device. Will there be a special app for the big3(Apple, Google, RIM) or will it just be a browser? Will the promise of 4G speeds make this work well or be bogged down?

The same could be asked of IBM and Project Vulcan. Right now the argument goes on about how to build traveler and support what and where. I am looking beyond these devices to understand the future and it seems no one really has a great handle on it.

I don't care about devices or OS, I care about getting my data to me no matter what I am using. And my clients ask the same of me. But I do care about privacy(Yes I use social media and location based programs but that is different from inside the company firewall privacy) perhaps more than security because in the end all systems will have their security methods but privacy seems to be the forgotten step child.

After all, BCC was created for a reason, maybe not a good one, but there are good reasons for it as well.